Assam helpline to function from May

The 181-Sakhi toll-free helpline, launched in Assam for women in distress on March 29, will provide 24x7 service from the first week of May, the helpline management said on Tuesday.

By MANASH PRATIM DUTTA in Guwahati
  • Published 4.04.18
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Sarbananda Sonowal at the launch of the helpline in Guwahati. File picture

Guwahati: The 181-Sakhi toll-free helpline, launched in Assam for women in distress on March 29, will provide 24x7 service from the first week of May, the helpline management said on Tuesday.

The helpline number, which was launched by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal after a series of incidents of crime against women took place across Assam recently, now provides service from 10am to 5.30pm. Since its launch, the facility has received 76 cases so far, a statement issued by the management said.

Sources said efforts are on for the past two years to make the helpline functional across the state. Though the state government decided to make the facility to be functional 24x7 immediately, the management said it is unable to do so owing to a staff crunch.

"Very soon a recruitment process will be conducted. Now there are seven call respondents at the Guwahati-based central call centre. The department aims to appoint around 17 staff comprising call responders, IT staff and management personnel," said Nilakshi Sarma, an official of the helpline service.

The helpline, launched under the ministry of women and child development, aims to provide round-the-clock emergency service to women in distress.

Sarma said with the helpline facility, police rescued three women till Monday. The cases were reported in Changsari and Sonapur in lower Assam and Nagaon in central Assam.

The management clarified its stand over jurisdiction while referring to the incident of assault on three girls at Nongpoh, Meghalaya, recently. "The territorial jurisdiction of our service is within the Assam border only. But the incident took place at Nongpoh, which is not in our jurisdiction. Therefore, the victims failed to connect with us," Sarma said.

"The helpline is not a replacement of police services. We provide emergency and non-emergency help to distressed women. In an emergency, we seek the help of the police. In non-emergency cases, we register the victims' complaints and do the follow up if required. It is a step towards providing social, legal and psychological assistance to women in distress," she added.